Days till government shutdown: 5
Where things stand: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was speaking when you went to bed last night, and as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, he’s still standing on the Senate floor delivering his speech against Obamacare. More on that here.
Cruz’s speech, at over 15 hours and counting, is not technically a filibuster and won’t delay or prevent a vote on the continuing resolution, but he could continue speaking well into the morning. Senate rules require him to stop by noon, and the Senate will hold its first procedural vote on the continuing resolution at an undetermined time in the afternoon.
Who’s saying what: Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, floated a plan Tuesday which would change the deadline for the continuing resolution from Dec. 15 to Nov. 15., which Reid said he supports. Mikulski argued the current Dec. 15 time frame would result in senators delaying their work.
“That’s one more gimmick to bring us to Christmas Eve where we have all the theatrics and jingle bells, jingle bells while we try to solve our situation,” Mikulski said on the Senate floor.
“November 15 keeps the pressure on both of us, on both sides of the aisle, to get the job done,” Mikulski said.
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it would be up to the majority leader and speaker of the House to decide on that, but he repeated his stance that he will vote in favor of cloture.
“I just don’t happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare,” McConnell said.
But several Senate Republicans rose to Cruz’s defense when he delivered his marathon speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wy., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Rand Paul, R-Ky., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and David Vitter, R-La., all spoke on the Senate floor alongside Cruz. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tim Kaine, D-Ky., stuck around for the late night session to lob questions at the Texas Republican.
Where things are heading: Reid and McConnell said they would be willing to accelerate the voting process but noted it takes just one senator to derail that effort. After their policy luncheons Tuesday, senators acknowledged that an agreement to speed up the process would likely not happen, meaning we’re still looking at a final vote on the continuing resolution on Sunday. But after last night, one question still remains. Will Cruz launch any more marathon speeches in the Senate this week? Here’s another look at the Senate’s likely schedule for the week.
Wednesday, Sept. 25
After Cruz completes his speech, the Senate will have its first test vote on a measure to end debate on the motion to proceed, which will require 60 votes to pass. The vote has yet to be scheduled but will in the afternoon. If the vote passes, a 30-hour clock would start before the Senate can vote on a motion to proceed.
Thursday, Sept. 26
At the end of the 30 hours, the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed. At this time, Reid can file the amendment that would strip the Obamacare defunding language from the bill. Reid would then file cloture on the resolution, setting up a vote to end debate for Saturday.
Friday, Sept. 27
This is a day of debate during which Cruz could launch another long speech to try to keep the Senate from taking out the defund Obamacare language.
Saturday, Sept. 28
The Senate will vote to end debate on the resolution, which will require 60 votes. The 30-hour clock would then start, allowing for the final votes to occur on Sunday.
Sunday, Sept. 29
The Senate will hold two votes on Sunday. The first would be to approve the amendment that would strip the defunding language from the CR, and the second would be on final passage of the bill, at which point it would be sent back to the House.